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FUEN held its Assembly of Delegates 2020 with remote participation

“The year and a half which passed since our last congress has been a rollercoaster ride with many ups and downs, with the coronavirus pandemic repeatedly interfering with almost all of our plans. However, I think it shows the power and the flexibility of our organisation, the professionalism and creativity of our team, that while we could not surpass the pandemic yet, we were able to compensate for the events which did not take place physically and offer meaningful services for our member organisations. In this situation lacking any kind of stability, through our resilience, perseverance and inventiveness FUEN managed to remain efficient and relevant. What we have to do now is to build upon our rediscovered values and make our communities prosper” – said FUEN President Loránt Vincze on Saturday, at the FUEN Assembly of Delegates 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Assembly was organised be remote participation. More than 200 delegates were connected in the online system.

In his report, the President noted that the FUEN made significant breakthroughs to advance the cause of autochthonous minorities in the European Union with the Minority SafePack Initiative. “We ensured that it is on the agenda in the EU institutions, the Member States and in the policy-making expert community. Through this process, FUEN has become an influential advocacy organisation in EU circles”, he said, announcing that the European Parliament will have a plenary debate and a resolution on the MSPI in December this year.

The Vice Presidents of FUEN presented their Activity Report at the Assembly of Delegates. Gösta Toft talked about the Minority Safepack Intitiative’s progress and the need for more rights for minorities in Europe, especially in the field of education. Vladimir Ham presented the German Working Group AGDM’s traveling exhibition Between Two Worlds, and also the visits to member organisations, saying that many minorities have not only political but also existential problems. Angelika Mlinar presented the activity of the Slavic Working Group AGSM, and their brochure presenting all Slavic minorities in FUEN.  Halit Habip Oglu talked about the Turkic Working Group TAG, saying that due to the pandemic FUEN met extraordinary challenges, and the working group also had to face these challenges. Bahne Bahnsen presented the activity and the challenges of the Non-Kin-Stet Working Group. Daniel Alfreider talked about the online survey on the educational opportunities of autocthonous minorities in Europe, in which they had input from 30 European countries. The results of the survey will be presented at the Education Working Group’s Annual Meeting in December. The new President of YEN, Andor Barabás also introduced himself and the activity of the youth organisation.

According to FUEN Secretary General Éva Pénzes, the past year was a very active year for FUEN: 16 projects were implemented, altogether more than 250 press releases were paublsihed in English, German, Turkish, Russian and Hungarian language and more than 300 postes in the social media channels publsihed. Publications like the FUEN brochure or the FUEN calendar point out the extremely large activity of the FUEN administration and the Presidium. “Even if the year 2020 changes everything, we still look positively into the future and I am sure that even in the greatest need we will find solutions together to further the interests of the minorities. But only together we can achieve this” – concluded the Secretary General her report at the Assembly of Delegates.

The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened already existing inequalities between autochthonous national minorities and language communities and the majority population in Europe and has highlighted the disadvantage of many national minorities in accessing basic services, as the large-scale “Do you speak Corona?” survey carried out by FUEN with the cooperation of the European Parliament’s Intergroup for Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages also highlights.

This is why the FUEN Assembly of Delegates adopted on Saturday a Resolution on ensuring the protection and safeguarding of autochthonous national minorities and language communities and their cultural heritage in times of crisis and on the provision of essential information in minority languages related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amendments to the FUEN Statutes were voted at the Assembly. A new article makes it possible for member organisations to exercise their voting rights by way of electronic communication in extraordinary circumstances and/or that the Assembly of Delegates to take place wholly or partly by means of a remote meeting. Such exceptional circumstances are deemed to occur in particular if delegates of at least one third of the member organisations are unable to physically participate in the Assembly of Delegates due to travel restrictions or border closure imposed by their country of residence or by the country in which the Assembly of Delegates is to be held. An amendment also makes it possible for the members of the Presidium to participate in meetings and to vote on decisions wholly or partly by electronic means.

FUEN’s Congress 2021 will take place in Niva Gorica/Gorizia, at the Italian-Slovene border. The Assembly of Delegates was informed that the FUEN Congress 2020, which was planned to take place in Gorica/Goriza at the Italian-Slovene border region, will be postponed with one year to be organised in 2021. The FUEN Congress 2021 will be hosted by the FUEN Member Organisation the Confederation of Slovene Organisations (SSO –Svet Slovenskih Organizacij), in cooperation with the FUEN Member Organisation the Slovene Union (Slovenska Skupnost).

The Assembly of Delegates was also informed that the FUEN Congress 2021, which was planned to take place in Tallinn, Estonia, will be postponed with one year to be organised in 2022. The FUEN Congress 2022 will be hosted by the FUEN Member Organisation NGO “Russian School of Estonia” (Некоммерческое объединение “Русская школа Эстонии”) in cooperation with the FUEN Member Organisations Association of Germans in Estonia (Verein der Deutschen in Estland), the Estonian Union of National Minorities (Eestimaa Rahvuste Ühendus ERÜ) and other Member Organisations in Estonia.

A new member has joined the ranks of FUEN Member Organisations: at Saturday’s Assembly of Delegates the Regional Civic Organisation for Development of Kumyk Culture, Contribution to Kumyk Language, Preservation and Coordination of Kumyk projects “Qumuqlar” was accepted as an ordinary member.  The NGO which was registered in 2014 and is seated in Moscow represents the Kumyk Turks in the Russian Federation. FUEN welcomes Qumuqlar among its members.

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